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The North Country Chamber of Commerce is applauding the announcement by the Biden Administration that the requirement that Canadians be vaccinated for COVID to cross the border into the U.S. will be dropped as of May 12. Canada had dropped COVID vaccination and testing requirements at the border in April 2022, creating a greater ability for Americans to go back and forth than Canadians. The Chamber has been actively advocating for reciprocity ever since.

"Once Canada dropped its vaccination and testing requirements last year, we enjoyed a quick return of more than 70% of cross border visitation compared with 2019," notes Garry Douglas, Chamber President. "The continued aim is to return to 2019 levels but the failure to reciprocate with Canada was a part of the continued 30% loss in travel. In time for summer, starting with Victoria Day on May 22, all will return to normal and with the promotional activity we will undertake in Canada in the coming weeks and months, we can expect to see even more of our Canadian friends back in the North Country."

Douglas notes that one of the most damaging impacts of the pandemic on the U.S.-Canadian border was the loss of coordination. "Since 9/11, a culture had developed between both countries that it was a shared border, with almost everything coordinated and done jointly," says Douglas. "As of March 2020, it became two borders facing one another with both countries deciding and implementing things separately, thereby exacerbating confusion and disruption. This important step by the U.S. returns us to having the same basic border crossing requirements in both directions, but it remains important for the U.S. and Canada to permanently reestablish the shared border concept."

Douglas expresses appreciation to the region's Washington representatives "for their relentless advocacy, particularly Congresswoman Stefanik and Senators Schumer and Gillibrand. Also, our state legislators including Billy Jones and Dan Stec, and many partners all along the border in both countries who we routinely collaborate with. Onward and upward for the special social and economic connections between the North Country and Canada!"

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